The sub-zero temperatures are tough for people to handle, but the weather isn't any easier on the cars many rely on for transportation. In fact, AAA responded to three times their normal volume of service calls this week.
No one plans on being stranded, which is why it's important to prepare in advance and, hopefully, avoid the situation altogether. The best way to do that is to start by making sure the battery and tires are ready for the freeze, but keeping an emergency kit is crucial if the worst should happen.
EMERGENCY KIT COMPONENTS:
- A blanket or sleeping bag
- Road flares
To make cold-weather trips a little easier on vehicles, many experts recommend warming up your car before driving it -- but that can create an opportunity for thieves or run afoul of city ordinances.
It's understandable that many people would prefer not to wait in the cold while their car heats up, but certain cities require the driver to be in or around the car. Otherwise, a citation could be issued -- or worse.
In Hopkins, police are cracking down because six cars have already been stolen since the cold snap started. Each case involved a car left running, unlocked and unattended. Often, the cars are stolen first thing in the morning as people prepare to leave for work.
"This is a dangerous situation," Sgt. Mike Glassberg, of the Hopkins Police Department, explained. "When these cars get stolen, when we try to apprehend the suspects there is a potential for pursuit. It takes a lot of our resources to look into these things."
Now, officers are issuing dozens of citations and warnings to remind people to at least lock a warming car with a spare set of keys before walking away from it. Yet, some residents aren't thrilled with the idea of police cracking down on drivers when the cold temperatures are already enough to deal with.
"I think it's very unfair -- very unfair, with it being cold for what, the last 7 days," Ray Talbert told Fox 9 News. "So, that's pushing it."
Of course, there are some exceptions. Remote starters are fine because anyone who tried to steal the car couldn't get far without the keys, but it is important to check city ordinances to make sure you don't run afoul of the local time limit.
In Minneapolis, car owners cannot legally let any vehicle idle for more than 3 minutes unless the temperature is subzero; however, even then, it can't run for more than 15 minutes. The rules do vary whether the car is on a city street or in a private driveway, so it's best to check.